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IBM Donates Computers for Disaster Relief

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RALEIGH — For many North Carolina agencies, Hurricane Floyd last year and the snow storm in January proved a challenge as they struggled to get volunteers in place. Now, IBM is giving out computers to help with disaster relief.

Organizations including Triangle United Way and the American Red Cross say the computers will help them organize and recruit volunteers faster so everyone can benefit from the use of the new technology.

In all, 54 agencies will receive the computers, all donated by IBM.

The 86 desktop and 21 laptop computers will not only help the organizations involved. Officials say they could also end up helping you after a disaster.

The computers are expected to help in every phase of the logistics of a disaster, including distribution. And managing volunteers is one example.

The American Red Cross, for instance, will use their computer to go into the state's Emergency Management System, and the computer will link government and Red Cross efforts in time of disaster.

According to Jill Cox of Triangle United Way, state officials "will be immediately able to turn to the Red Cross and say 'We're evacuating these counties,' and the Red Cross will be able to get their computer up and look at the volunteers they have available to respond to that need. They will be able to go ahead and get those services into play all that much more quickly to help those people."

Although IBM donates computers across the country, Triangle non-profits receive more than any other area.

Not all of the agencies deal directly with disaster relief. Other recipients, including Boys and Girls Clubs and Triangle Family Services, say they will also be able to help many more people using this technology.